SAM Magazine—Kelowna, B.C., Dec. 18, 2020–A cluster outbreak of 76 positive Covid-19 cases at Big White Resort has spurred action from the resort and community. The cases were related to group housing and social gatherings, according to Canada’s Interior Health, and led to the termination of seven Big White employees.
Big White worked swiftly with Interior Health to limit the spread. Testing by the regional government continues. In addition, authorities are assisting Big White in securing safe housing for those affected or needing to quarantine.
“The safeguard and the health of our employees, community and guests is our first and foremost priority,” said Peter Plimmer, president and CEO of Big White Ski Resort Ltd. “We are committed to doing everything we can to support our employees and other workers on the mountain, from arranging transportation, accommodation and meals for anyone who needs to self-isolate and does not already have an appropriate place to stay. Our hearts go out to everyone struggling with the virus both in our backyard and around the world. We are all in this together.”
According to the CBC, Big White, at the bequest of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, is also cancelling all upcoming reservations for people who live outside of the Central Okanagan as the resort responds to the outbreak. Those affected can ask for a refund or rebook for a later date. The move brings the resort in line with a public health advisory that has been in place since Nov. 19 cautioning against all non-essential travel.
Big White employs 55 percent of the workforce at the mountain, and 24 percent of its employees participate in employee housing. Employees reviewed and signed a social responsibility contract before starting work this season, and the seven fired employees had broken the contract and/or committed other violations.
Big White has directed its management team to personally speak to all staff regarding the outbreak, and present them (for the third time) with its Social Responsibility Contract to once again recommit to and physically acknowledge it in the presence of a supervisor.
Big White also has a daily health protocol in place which follows the guidelines of the Provincial Health Officer, and requires all employees working in the resort and their offices off-mountain to sign a Health Declaration upon beginning work. Big White has a zero tolerance policy with any employees who are found to be in breach of these documents, and that led to the dismissal of the seven employees.